BELLEVILLE - One Essex County school district has made a significant investment in security for its schools, and officials say it's worth every dollar.
Students, teachers and staff at Belleville public schools are being watched, as is anyone who enters any of the school buildings or walks through the parking lots.
It is part of an elaborate, $2 million security upgrade that was born out of the terror of the Sandy Hook massacre one year ago.
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Board of Education Trustee Joe Longo says tragedy can happen anywhere. "By the end of the day we knew that if it could happen in a cozy community like Newtown, Conn., that it could certainly happen anywhere," he says.
Bruce Kreeger is the president of Clarity Technologies Group, the company installing the system. "This is the only school in the country that has something as extensive as this," he says.
Kreeger says the goal of the thorough surveillance, some of which includes audio, is to keep unauthorized people out.
Each student and employee will also receive new radio frequency ID cards. The smart IDs will go out next week and will be needed to enter schools or board buses, which are also equipped with cameras.
The new system includes more than 800 cameras covering every classroom, corridor and stairwell in all nine of the district's buildings. The movements of any intruder can be tracked from multiple angles and police will be able to watch all of it unfold in real time.
Other measures that are part of the new system include panic buttons for teachers, reinforced windows and doors, and an armed guard in every school in the district.
For extended interview on Belleville school security, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.